Amidst the whistling of bombs and deafening explosions, on September 23, 1939, pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman played Chopin’s Nocturne in C sharp minor live on Poland’s national radio. It was the last live broadcast from Warsaw before the Nazis took the station off the air. Although he lost his entire family, Szpilman survived in hiding. His life was eventually saved by a German officer who heard him playing the same Chopin Nocturne on a piano found in the rubble. After the war, the broadcast was resumed with the same pianist and the same piece. Szpilman’s book is a stunning testament to human resilience and the redemptive power of music. Amid the horrors of history, Chopin’s music was a saving grace. It was music that gave the Jew hunted by the Nazis strength of resistance, and it also stirred up the humanity of the German officer, prompting him to offer him his protection. Chopin was a complete and complex artist, a man who transformed feelings into harmonious and colorful sonorities. Although romantic by the feelings it evokes or induces, Chopin’s music has a classical purity, a rich chromatic harmony, a complexity that tests the pianist’s virtuosity.

On March 1, on the occasion of the 214th anniversary of his birth and on the first day of spring, the Polish Institute in Bucharest and the Golești Museum evoke this great musician, organizing, in the ballroom of the Golescu family mansion, an exhibition that presents, for the Romanian public, his life and work.

Frédéric François Chopin (Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin) was born in Poland on March 1, 1810. He was a child genius who was composing and writing poetry at the age of six. He gave his first concert at the age of 8. He studied music in Poland, graduating in 1829 from the Warsaw Conservatory. In 1830 he left his native land to perform in Western Europe. He lives, teaches and performs in Paris, the cultural capital of romantic Europe, consolidating his reputation as a performer, teacher and composer. He also travels to the German cultural space, where he gives concerts and meets other great musicians: Franz Liszt, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck. In 1836 he meets the writer Georges Sand (Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin, Baroness Dudevant), the woman who will mark his destiny, and with whom he will live, through thick and thin, for ten years. Severely affected by a lung disease, Frédéric Chopin will die on October 17, 1849, at the age of 39.

The instrument most loved by Chopin and for which he wrote most of his compositions was the piano. His pieces for this instrument are very technically demanding. He wrote mazurkas, waltzes, nocturnes, polonaises, ballads (an instrumental genre invented by him), etudes, impromptu pieces, preludes, etc. His compositions take and process the Polish musical tradition, which he interweaves with classical sonorities. Chopin’s music was and will be associated with the Polish national spirit, but equally expresses feelings and experiences that are generally human. His music envelops you, delights you, stirs you up and challenges you to decipher it, to discover the source of its power of fascination. What is Chopin’s secret? We can follow Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt’s hero from Doamna Pylinska and Chopin’s secret in his search. Let’s sit under the piano and feel its vibrations, listen to the wind passing through the branches of the trees, let’s gather with shy fingers the morning dew from the rose petals, let’s look at the calmness of the water’s shine and the waves propagated by the stone that disturb its tranquility… The great composers they are not just music makers, they are spiritual guides who guide us through life, who give us the strength to fight or endure, who delight us and make us vibrate to the universal chords of beauty. Chopin’s music is the transposition of sensory experiences and feelings that define our humanity, and the most powerful of these is love. Chopin’s music is love expressed in harmonious sounds.

We invite you to the Golești Museum, until the end of March, to discover the story of this wonderful composer and his fascinating music.